“Architecture in uniform”, an exhibition on building design during World War II, now in Rome.

The exhibition, curated by the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, has been specially adapted by MAXXI Rome to focus on Italy’s planning activities that led to the post-war period construction boom.

 

The MERO system, example of possible structures, 1943. Page from Max Mengeringhausen, Raumfachwerke aus Stäben und Knoten, 1975. Private collection.

The MERO system, example of possible structures, 1943. Page from Max Mengeringhausen, Raumfachwerke aus Stäben und Knoten, 1975. Private collection.

 

The Roman Museum of the Arts in the Twenty-first century  is holding an exhibition on construction planning and building development and research during the Second World War. This exhibition, named “Architecture in Uniform. Designing and building for the second world war” will be open until May 3rd 2015.

 

Cover of Lieutenant-Colonel René Rodolphe, Battles in the Maginot Line, Editions M. Ponsot, Paris, 1949. Private collection

Cover of Lieutenant-Colonel René Rodolphe, Battles in the Maginot Line, Editions M. Ponsot, Paris, 1949. Private collection

 

The exhibition tries to display how, despite what is usually assumed in recent art history, the field of architecture experienced “a time full of research and transformation”. Affecting both the military and civilians alike, architecture was called upon, like many other displines, to contribute as any other human resource for the warring nations.

 

Firenze - Galleria dell’Accademia, protezione a scopo di difesa dai danni di guerra del David di Michelangelo, 1944/45. Gelatina al bromuro d’argento su carta. ICCD - Fondo Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione Gabinetto fotografico della Regia Soprintendenza alle Gallerie

Firenze – Galleria dell’Accademia, protection to defend Michelangelo’s David from wartime harms, 1944/45. Silver gelatin print on paper. ICCD – Fondo Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione Gabinetto fotografico della Regia Soprintendenza alle Gallerie

 

The exhibition explores the various ways in which architects worked during this period, such as testing new construction materials and techniques, inventing new forms of camouflage and propaganda, and designing gigantic structures for production and war test as well as concentration camps, modernizing both techniques and design methods.

 

A team of camouflage artists at work at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.Illustration in Robert P. Breckenridge, Modern Camouflage: The New Science of Protective Concealment

A team of camouflage artists at work at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.Illustration in Robert P. Breckenridge, Modern Camouflage: The New Science of Protective Concealment

 

The exhibition comprises an extensive international section, with a wealth of discoveries and spectacular images, while for the MAXXI edition a major section has been added that focuses on Italy and the incessant building and planning activities that in those years was already laying the foundations for the construction boom of the post-war period.

 

P.A.J. (Propaganda Abteilung Jtalien), Lavoratore, rifletti: “Miseria, povertà, caos. Lavoro in Germania, buona retribuzione, progresso sociale. Hai scelto? “Si”, 1943, stampa litografica su carta, The Mitchell Wolfson Jr. Collection, Genova, in comodato presso Wolfsoniana – Palazzo Ducale Fondazione per la Cultura, Genova

P.A.J. (Propaganda Abteilung Jtalien), Lavoratore, rifletti: “Misery, poverty, chaos. Work in Germany, good salary and social progress. Have you chosen? “Yes”, 1943, lithographic print on paper, The Mitchell Wolfson Jr. Collection, Genova, in  Wolfsoniana – Palazzo Ducale Fondazione per la Cultura, Genova

 

 

Text adapted from exhibition brief.
You can download the mini-guide of the exhibition here.
Visit MAXXI Roma for more information.